Dispassionately Covering Topics about which We’re Passionate

When the government (any branch of it) makes decisions we don’t like, it is natural for us to be impassioned in our response. We ought, however, to remember to try to set aside our emotions when we respond. I recently came across this link (link) to a fox news story, whose headline epitomizes the problem I’m describing. The headline is “the feds” have “forced” churches to get “baptism permits.” Sounds more like 17th century Europe than 21st century USA. Once you dig into the article, though, you discover that all that is being required is that if churches want to use a river in a park to perform baptisms, they need to get permission in advance.

The story goes on to admit:

“As of today, the park’s policy has been clarified to state that no permit will be required for baptisms within the Riverways,” Supt. William Black wrote in a letter to the congressman. “I can assure you the National Park Service has no intention of limiting the number of baptisms performed within the park.”

The problem with such a headline becomes clear when you see the more disturbing news buried beneath that disclaimer:

In Olympia, Wash., a church was denied a permit to hold a baptism at Heritage Park a few weeks ago. Their request was rejected because the attorney general said the religious sacrament was a violation of the state constitution.

That one is far more disturbing, but the reader by now is disappointed to discover that the headline was just hype.

We could say much the same thing about the coverage of the New Mexico decision that says wedding photographers can’t turn down clients simply because the clients are homosexuals. Some of the coverage basically made it sound like the NM state were going to be rounding up wedding photographers and forcing them to take good pictures of homosexuals pretending to marry. In fact, the disappointing decision was far more limited.

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